COURTESY OF ISLAND TIES
Frustrated at baggage claim? Barbara Wallace came up with Island Ties, the perfect solution for making luggage stand out in a crowd.
A lei for your luggage: Island Ties keep you traveling in style
Island Ties luggage straps shout from the airport conveyor belt, "Hui! I stay ovah hee-ah!" The adjustable straps convey island pride and bind baggage shut to keep unmentionables like bee-bah-dees inside
Former KHNL news anchor Barbara Wallace, "wanted something that looked Hawaiian," she said.
The product slogan is, "A lei for your luggage," and that is what they look like. The first shipment of 5,000 pieces sold out in three weeks in August.
The straps are webbed like seat belts, but softer, and have ilima-tuberose, maile-pikake and other color-fast designs by Faith Graphics' Kesli Tengan dyed right in.
Wallace's patent-pending closure has Velcro on both sides of the strap with an ID tag built in.
A new shipment of 35,000 has arrived with new background colors including aqua, royal blue, lime green, yellow and "lava red." A black strap with red anthurium design is an option for those who don't want something too girlie around their Samsonite.
Personalization is big in America.
People pimp their rides with vanity plates and other stuff.
People plug pukas in their Crocs with baubles, partly to ensure they pick the right pair leaving the party at Uncle Junior Boy's house.
Jimmy Walker of Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" had a two-piece custom-made pool cue.
But how to customize luggage without commissioning a set?
Frequent traveler Deanna D. e-mailed Wallace about her suitcase-spotting woes. "We started tying white bows on bags ... and so did everyone else. We put neon laces on bags ... and so has everyone else."
Deanna hoped to become the "only person from Kansas who will have luggage leis."
Wallace's pitches to retailers led her to distributor Islander Group Inc.
"It will have been, in my 30 years, the most successful product ever launched at this price," said Executive Vice President Steve Holmberg. Suggested retail is about $13, "and to sell thousands of units as rapidly as we are, I've not seen anything like it."
Longs, Don Quijote, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, NEX and AAFES carry the straps, or will, within two weeks, as will other retailers.
Holmberg believes "she can take this anywhere she wants, Tahiti, Bermuda, it will work in Europe ... she has just hit the home-run extraordinaire."
Wallace plans private labeling of luggage leis for corporate clients. A TV product placement deal is also in the works.
"It started as my project and now it's my business and I see lots more potential," she said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com